Recent heavy rain takes toll on water quality

August 23, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

Heavy late-summer rains and storm water runoff are being blamed for high bacteria levels at local waterfront parks.

The Okaloosa County Health Department reported Thursday that water quality is poor at 10 of the 13 sites it regularly monitors for enterococci, bacteria found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals.

“You’re going to see spikes in the summer,” said John Hofstad, [the Okaloosa county] public works director. “When you get significant rainfall after extended dry periods, you get that sheet flow of storm water across roads and across lawns … picking up animal waste and various pollutants.”

That polluted water flows into local bays and the Gulf of Mexico, he added.

Signs warn visitors of high bacteria levels and state that swimming is not recommended.

The Health Department uses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard to measure local enterococci levels.

Water quality is rated good, moderate or poor, based on the number of enterococci per 100 milliliters of water. Typically, when levels are high — 105 or more per 100 milliliters — people who get in the water may experience symptoms ranging from gastrointestinal illnesses and mild diarrhea to rashes and skin infections.

“You always swim at your own risk in a natural body of water,” Health Department Director Dr. Karen Chapman said. “The greatest risk is for very young children, the elderly and people who have compromised immune systems.”

Healthy people who swim in the polluted water likely will see minimal or no symptoms. But open cuts or sores could result in minor inflammation and infection, she added.

Hofstad, who has studied local water pollution issues since the early 1990s, said improving storm water protections help but will not solve the problem.

“Every time you install a storm water separator, you’re making some attempt to reduce pollutants, and it will have an impact … but you’re still going to have those points on our coastline where storm water will flow into the bay.”

Editor’s note: While this article is region-specific, I’ve included it because of the sheer number of similar articles I have sifted through across not only the country, but the world. E.coli levels at beaches due to runoff and in many instances sewage being pumped directly into the sea is at epidemic proportions and deserves to be brought to awareness and looked at closely by the general public.

Article source: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/beach-51906-quality-water.html

Fund water-quality tests at NJ shore, lawmakers urge Congress

August 23, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

Two of New Jersey’s federal lawmakers are urging Congress to approve funding for water-quality programs along the shore.

President Barack Obama’s budget proposal does not include any money for a 12-year-old program that gives grants to states to test water quality.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg wants $10 million to be authorized so beach-goers can know if the ocean water is safe.

“A day at the beach should never turn in to a visit to the doctor afterward,” he said. “We’ve got to do what we can to protect every mile of our beautiful coastline, to protect it from waste and pollution.”

Congressman Frank Pallone joined Lautenberg on the Asbury Park boardwalk Thursday to push for faster testing.

Pallone said there is new technology that makes it possible to get results in six hours instead of the current 24-hour wait to determine if beaches should be closed to swimmers.

The two Democrats are urging that federal grants be approved for towns to detect sources of pollution so they can be cleaned up.

With the surf crashing in the background, Lautenberg and Pallone also hammered away at Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney’s proposal for a new national energy strategy.

The cornerstone of Romney’s plan is opening up more areas for offshore oil drilling, including in the mid-Atlantic, where it is currently banned.

Lautenberg opposes the idea as much too risky to the environment.

“We don’t want our beaches filled with oil. We don’t want our waters filled with oil,” he said. “We don’t want the result that you could easily get from drilling off our coast.’

Romney says ramping up offshore drilling could create 3 million jobs and more than $1 trillion in revenue. He also wants to give states more control over energy production on federal land.

Editor’s note: Just the fact that a trip to the beach could be “followed by a trip to the doctor,” is enough to raise a red flag in anyone’s sensibilities, right? Think about this - if you cannot safely enjoy your local beach without researching the toxicity levels first or if you are at risk for illness at anytime, there is a problem, and not one that will be solved on its own. Speak up for to your politicians and advocate for funding for water safety. Also, urge lawmakers to vote against any legislation that endangers our waters, because cleaning that up is not simple, never quick, and causes years of in many cases irreparable damage. Do you really want to never enjoy your beaches and waterways again?

Article source: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/43323

Online beach alert system wins award

April 8, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

An innovative online project which provides real-time alerts on the cleanliness of Westcountry beaches has won a national award.

Beach Live was launched by South West Water last summer to provide live bathing water information about 21 popular or Blue Flag beaches across Devon and Cornwall.

It was developed by South West Water in partnership with Surfers Against Sewage, the Environment Agency, local authorities, tourism leaders and beach managers.

The website, which was named community project of the year at the annual Water Industry Achievement Awards, is set to be expanded to 40 beaches this summer.

South West Water chief executive Chris Loughlin said: “This is fantastic news and we are very proud that this key project has been acknowledged in this way.

“Sustainability, the environment and working in partnership and with our local communities is at the heart of what we do here so it is great to be recognised for our work in these areas. These awards are a testament to the hard work of our staff and all our partners.”

Cornwall Council portfolio holder for community safety and public protection Lance Kennedy said greater communication helped to “maintain confidence in the quality of Cornwall’s seas and beaches for residents and visitors alike”.

He said: “We already know we have some of the consistently best bathing water quality in Europe but we can’t just take that for granted. We have to show others that fact and demonstrate what is going on to keep it that way.”

Malcolm Bell, head of Visit Cornwall, added: “Beach Live is an exciting service which gives our visitors information they can use. It’s live information that adds to our world class beach management and our competitiveness.”

Article source: http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Online-beach-alert-wins-award/story-15762284-detail/story.html

Dirty Beaches in NYC: Which Ones Need a Bath?

June 30, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

The Natural Resources Defense Council released its annual beach water quality report yesterday and found water at a total of 134 beaches in the five boroughs and its surrounding areas had bacteria levels that exceeded state health standards.

Nationally, the report found the number of beach closings and advisories was at the second-highest level in the 18 years that the report has been issued.

According to the study, one Brooklyn swimming hole—Gerritsen/Kiddie Beach in Southern Brooklyn— was closed at different points due to bacteria levels. Five other sites in Brooklyn — including three Coney Island beaches, Kingsborough Community College Beach and Manhattan Beach– had bacteria levels that were unsafe for swimming on various days last year when samples were taken.

Gerritsen/Kiddie Beach’s water was higher than the acceptable standards for swimming 14 percent of the time. It was closed a total of 14 days.

Both Coney Island’s Brighton 15th-16th and West 16th-27th beaches had pollution levels higher than the state standard nine percent of the time.

The study also found levels that were unacceptable for swimming by New York State health standards at nine sites in the Bronx, 31 in Nassau County, 67 in Suffolk County, 17 in Westchester County and two in Staten Island.

“America’s beaches have long suffered from pollution,” said Jon Devine, a senior attorney for the defense council. “The difference is now we know what to do about it. By making our communities literally greener on land, we can make the water at the beach cleaner. In the years to come, there’s no reason we can’t reverse this dirty legacy.”

The council, which is a non-profit environmental safeguard group that would formed in 1970, found that aging sewage treatment systems and contaminated storm water were the primary reasons for polluted beach water. Pollutants included litter, floating debris and “toilet-generated waste,” according to the defense council.

In Queens, Douglas Manor Beach, a private swimming spot, exceeded the state’s acceptable standard 25 percent of the time and was closed 54 times during the course of the study and Whitestone Beach exceeded the limit 17 percent of the time and was closed 21 times.

According to the study, Nassau County’s most polluted beaches were Crescent Beach, where samples were higher 27 percent of the time, and Seacliff Beach, which exceeded the limit 16 percent of the time.

But none of these beaches were listed in the study among the state’s most polluted.

“Generally, private beaches are more susceptible to closure due to higher bacteria levels, especially during times when there is rainfall due to their location. City beaches are classified as closed or under advisory when confirmed samples show that bathing beach water quality exceeds the water quality standard for marine water beaches,” said a spokesperson from the city’s Health Department.

“During the 2010 beach season, four public beaches - Coney Island, Orchard Beach, Wolfe’s Pond and Manhattan Beach- had exceedances when the weekly scheduled samples were collected, but re-sample results showed no exceedances. Therefore, the beaches were not closed.”

Related Topics: Beaches, Breezy Point, Brooklyn, Douglas Manor Beach, Douglaston, Environment, Gerritsen/Kiddie Beach, Nassau County, National Resources Defense Council, and coney island

Article source: http://bed-stuy.patch.com/articles/dirty-beaches-in-nyc-which-ones-need-a-bath

Near Record High Number of Beach Closings in 2010

June 29, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Water Quality

Near Record High Number of Beach Closings in 2010

Aluminum can buried in beach sand

June 29, 2011 — Last year, America’s beaches had the second-highest number of closings and advisory days in more than two decades. Dirty, polluted water was the main culprit.

In 2010, U.S. beaches were closed for 24,091 days, up 29% from 2009, according to the 21st annual beach water quality report, which was released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental action group headquartered in New York City.

The increase is mainly the result of heavy rainfall in Hawaii, contamination from unidentified sources in California, and oil washing up from the Gulf oil spill. Seventy percent of the closings resulted from too-high levels of bacteria from human or animal waste that finds its way into oceans in large part because of storm water runoff and sewage overflow. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 10 trillion gallons of untreated storm water makes its way to surface water each year.

“This year’s report confirms that our nation’s beach water continues to suffer from serious contamination,” David Beckman, director of the water program at the NRDC, said during a teleconference.

Beach water pollution poses health risks including stomach flu, skin rashes, and pinkeye; and ear, nose, and throat problems. Overall, the Great Lakes region had the most frequently contaminated beach water in 2010, and the Southeast, New York-New Jersey coast, and Delmarva region had the cleanest beach water, the new report showed. Individual states with the highest rates of reported contamination in were Louisiana, Ohio, and Indiana. States with the lowest rates of contamination last year were New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Hawaii, and Delaware. The NRDC based their report on government data on beach water at more than 3,000 beaches nationwide, and also gave ratings to 200 popular public beaches based on their water quality.

Common Sense Advice for Beach Days

Beach goers can also do their share to make sure a day at the beach is nothing short of a day at the beach, said NRDC senior water attorney Jon Devine.

“A day at the beach doesn’t have to mean getting sick,” he says. “Don’t swim near or in front of storm drains and don’t swim within 72 hours of heavy rain,” Devine says.

And always make sure you check for closures or advisory notices before you hit the beach, he says. “If the water looks or smells funny, don’t go in,” he says.

“Picking up your garbage, not feeding birds or other wildlife, cleaning up after your pets, and directing water runoff from your house to soil, not the street also helps,” he says.

On a national level, green infrastructure — which involves the use of techniques that allow rainwater to infiltrate the soil, instead of flowing to storm drains that carry it to nearby water bodies — is part of the safer beach water solution. Congress is mulling over a Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act.

Article source: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20110629/near-record-high-number-of-beach-closings-in-2010